NHL Rumor Mill – June 20, 2018
Latest on Erik Karlsson, Artemi Panarin, Phil Kessel and Wayne Simmonds in your NHL rumor mill.
KARLSSON THE NEXT SENATOR TO MOVE?
FRS HOCKEY: Chris Nichols cites Bob McKenzie yesterday telling Vancouver’s TSN 1040 he thinks the Ottawa Senators are going to trade defenseman Erik Karlsson. He believes they’ve got to get the right offer and while they don’t have to get it done by the upcoming NHL Draft, it would make sense if Karlsson could be moved by then.
McKenzie thinks they’re listening to offers because it could be difficult to get the superstar defenseman re-signed to a contract extension. Karlsson has a year remaining on his contract. Noting the Mike Hoffman trade, McKenzie thinks the Senators will continue to rebuild.
TSN: McKenzie’s colleague Frank Seravalli also believes the Senators are getting plenty of calls about Karlsson. He feels the Vegas Golden Knights “remains at the centre of the Karlsson Watch, as they attempted to acquire the blueliner leading up to last February’s trade deadline.
The Golden Knights have the salary-cap room and sufficient bargaining chips to make this happen, especially if the Senators insist on adding winger Bobby Ryan into the deal. It’s believed the Senators sought defenseman Shea Theodore when Vegas made their inquiries at the trade deadline, but the sticking point was the Sens asking for the Golden Knights to include top prospect Cody Glass in the deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I really can’t envision a scenario where Karlsson agrees to a long-term deal with the Senators, as there’s growing speculation they intend to blow things up and shed salary to get closer to the salary-cap floor, which could be as high as $60 million for 2018-19. I don’t think Karlsson wants to be part of a lengthy rebuild at this stage in his career.
Whether it’s Vegas or somewhere else, I think he prefers joining a contender. The Sens will set a high asking price for him, which will limit the number of clubs that could land him.
COULD THE BLUE JACKETS SHOP PANARIN?
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: George Richards cites a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claiming Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin has declined to engage in contract extension talks with the team “at this time,” prompting GM Jarmo Kekalainen to perhaps test the trade market heading as the NHL Draft weekend approaches. The winger tallied a career-high 82 points last season, his first with the Jackets following a trade from Chicago last year.
Richards said Kekalainen isn’t shopping Panarin, perhaps because he’s waiting to see what the market will bear for this summer’s top unrestricted free agents. Panarin is entering the second year of a two-year deal worth $6 million annually. His agent said this was not a proper time to discuss this situation.
THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Panarin has told Blue Jackets management he prefers to wait until the fall to talk contract, though his reasons are unclear. Portzline speculations perhaps the winger wants to see what moves Kekalainen makes this summer to improve the roster, or maybe he’s waiting to see if they’ll re-sign goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a contract extension, but his agent denies those are factors behind his client’s decision.
Portzline doubts the Jackets will get fair value for a player that other clubs aren’t sure they can keep unless they can get assurances he’ll re-sign with them. The longer he’s with the Jackets the more the list of trade destinations will shrink.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a very interesting situation for Kekalainen. If he’s got no assurances he can re-sign Panarin, and if he get a fair offer for the winger, he might not have to pull the trigger on a trade. The key here is if the Panarin camp are willing to listen to contract offers from interested clubs. If they’re not, it will certainly affect the return for the Jackets.
LATEST ON THE PENGUINS
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports multiple sources claim Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel, while perfectly willing to stay with the club, wouldn’t be opposed to a trade. His preferred destination is the Arizona Coyotes, where he’d be reunited with Coyotes head coach (and former Penguins assistant coach) Rick Tocchet. However, the Coyotes have informed the Penguins they cannot afford to take on his contract. Kessel has four years remaining on his deal, which sees the Penguins pay an annual average value of $6.8 million, with his former club, the Toronto Maple Leafs, picking up the remaining $1.2 million annually.
Yohe also reports the Penguins had interest in winger Max Domi before the Coyotes dealt him last Friday to the Montreal Canadiens. It’s believed they offered up Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary or Dominik Simon.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey believes the signs are there for Penguins GM Jim Rutherford to swing a trade, noting it’s around this time of year when he’s made some of his most notable moves. He feels Matt Hunwick, Conor Sheary and Carl Hagelin are the most likely to be dealt. Kessel and Derick Brassard remains options but not the likely ones.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I often doubted Kessel accepting a trade to a non-contender like the Coyotes, but it’s interesting to note that he would’ve accepted going to Arizona to be reunited with Tocchet. He had a very good relationship with the former Penguins assistant coach.
I’m not fully dismissing the possibility of a Kessel trade, but his cap hit and modified no-trade list makes it difficult to find a suitable trade partner. Given Rutherford’s interest in Domi, it’s apparent he’s looking to swing a deal to bring some balance to his roster. Sheary, Rust or Hagelin could be the likely trade chips.
FLYERS GEARING UP TO TRADE SIMMONDS?
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports multiple sources tell him the Philadelphia Flyers are gearing up to potentially trade winger Wayne Simmonds. He’s a year away from UFA status and Russo included him among a list of possible trade options for the Minnesota Wild.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: John Boruk reports Flyers GM Ron Hextall recently said he intended to open preliminary contract talks with Simmonds at some point. Hextall added he’s confident the rugged winger will bounce back from recent surgery to repair a tear in his pelvis area. Simmonds also has a 12-team no-trade list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds turns 30 in August and earns an annual salary-cap hit of $3.975 million, though in actual salary he’ll earn $5 million for 2018-19. The Flyers could be reluctant to pay him an expensive long-term extension, but he is a heart-and-soul player who’s very popular with his teammates and Flyers fans. This situation could be worth keeping an eye on this summer.